The Immortality of the Deathless
Author: Milady Dragon
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, do you think I would have messed it up so badly if I did?
Author's note: Here we are…the end. It's been a great ride, and I've never received such support on a story before! Thanks to everyone who have read, reviewed, added to alerts and favorites. I really appreciate all of you.
The first chapter of the sequel, Ways of Light and Darkness, should be up in a couple of weeks. I need to finish a story first, then I signed up for tw_bigbang, and need to get working on that first. I have the first chapter actually written but I don't want to post it yet…unless I can be persuaded, but it's really a teaser and then you'd have to wait anyway…
Here it is…the last chapter of The Immortality of the Deathless. I hope you enjoy it, and it brings you back for more in the sequel!
"Thank you for all your help, Jack." Baroness Gwen Williams stood at the window in her reception room, her back to the mercenary and her words sounding distant.
Jack rolled his eyes. She'd been distracted ever since he'd entered the room, and it was irritating him. "That's all you have to say?" he goaded, wanting to get a rise out of her.
She turned, eyebrows raised. "You and your people did good work. I don't know what else you want me to say."
The mercenary ground his teeth in frustration. He'd been hoping that the Baroness would have at least acknowledged what had happened to Suzie. "Oh, I don't know…maybe an 'I'm sorry you almost lost your Second because of those damned Artifacts'?"
"You and your people knew the job was dangerous when you took it."
Jack glanced over toward the Baron; Rhys was regarding his wife closely, as if he were seeing something in her that he hadn't quite noticed before. Then he looked at Gwen once more. "That still doesn't dismiss the fact that Suzie will need special care for the rest of her natural life." He knew Ianto blamed himself for Suzie's state, but he'd only been defending himself against a professionally trained mercenary and had done what he'd needed. Besides, the Wizard would have died anyway, without the intercession from the Deep Magic.
They hadn't informed either Baron or Baroness of what had happened at Gateway. It had been impossible to hide the changes in Ianto; even if his eyes hadn't permanently changed, there was Myfanwy's presence, and explaining the dragon as something other than Ianto's familiar hadn't been possible. The speculative look in the Baroness' eyes had made Jack think back on the beginning of all this, and how she'd obviously considered Ianto Jones to be a valuable asset to Torchwood Castle. Jack had done the same, and it shamed him totally. Ianto wasn't an object; he was an intelligent, passionate man who deserved every bit of respect they could give him.
It made Jack more than convinced that what he had planned was the right thing to do.
"As I said," the Baroness replied, "these are risks that you mercenaries should find acceptable. You risk your lives all the time. This circumstance was no different."
"Fine." Jack drew himself up, to stand at attention. "Therefore, I'm invoking the hazard clause in my contract with Torchwood Castle and the Baronial line."
He'd never done that before; the hazard clause was standard wording in any employment contract, no matter the position the contractee held. Nearly every job he'd taken on for the Baroness had been dangerous to some degree, but this last one had nearly cost him his entire team…and the man he was swiftly developing feelings for. He was well aware that invoking such a clause could very well mean an end to his highly lucrative contract with the castle, but at that point Jack didn't care. He'd fully expected the Baroness to at least care that Suzie was catatonic. He couldn't very well claim the three times that Jack himself had died on the mission, since no one outside his team knew his true nature, but at the very least Gwen could have pretended to care!
"You what?" she fairly shrieked.
"You heard me. I'm invoking the hazard clause in my contract with Torchwood Castle. That entitles me and my team special bonuses for completing the mission and recompense for our injuries…to wit, Suzie's lifetime medical care. This is above and beyond any other bonuses we're owed for the successful return of the Artifacts and for keeping Master Archivist Ianto Jones safe." Inwardly Jack cringed; he was using Ianto as a bargaining chip in order to get their full pay, and it bothered him. He knew Ianto would understand but that didn't make it any less distasteful.
The Baroness crossed her arms belligerently. "He came back changed!"
"And you cannot honestly say you're disappointed in having the first Wizard born in centuries under contract with the castle."
"That's beside the point."
No, it wasn't, Jack rebutted silently.
"The bonuses were made null and void the moment Lord Henry Parker found out about your mission. Someone from you team sold you out to him!"
"None of my people would have betrayed me," Jack growled. They hadn't mentioned just how Lord Henry had known about the Artifacts; the captain had wanted to save Ianto the embarrassment, and it wasn't really his fault it had happened. Adam Smith had ambushed him, and what the Seer had done was nothing less than mind rape. "They are completely loyal." Suzie had been, until those damned Artifacts had gotten their hooks into her.
"How do you know that, Jack? How do you honestly know your merry little band didn't sell itself out to the highest bidder? That's what you mercenaries do, isn't it?"
It was all he could do to control the sudden urge to punch the Baroness in the face. "If that's what you think," he hissed, "then you have absolutely no concept of loyalty and honor. You should look to your own people, Your Grace. There are more reasons to distrust them than my hand-picked team." He was as much as intimating that there was a spy in the castle…let the woman chew on that for a bit!
His intensity caused the Baroness to take a step back. "My employees are completely trustworthy," she snapped. But there was a look in her eye, which said she was at least considering it.
Jack shrugged. Let her think what she would. He knew the truth. "I'm still invoking the clause. It doesn't matter what sort of mud you throw. And I'm quite sure the Mercenary's Guild will uphold my claim."
The Baroness stormed over to her writing desk. She quickly scribbled something on a piece of paper, used her personal seal to make it official, then practically threw it at Jack. "There!" she snarled. "See my exchequer; he'll give you what you deserve."
The captain had only seen her this angry once: the night of the Winter Festival, almost five years ago, when he'd refused her advances. After that, he and his team hadn't gotten a job from her in almost a year, but she'd obviously gotten over his rejection and they'd been on a firm working relationship ever since. Well, until now. With the evocation of the hazard clause, Jack seriously doubted she'd be as forgiving, just from the damage it would do to her reputation. No one wanted to work for someone who would knowingly put people in so much danger hazard pay was called for.
Coincidentally, that had been the same evening he'd met a certain apprentice archivist…
But her anger made what Jack had to say next all the more satisfying. "Oh, by the way…I understand that Master Ianto has four years, nine months, one week, and two days to go before his contracted employment time is up." Ianto had given him the exact figures last night, as they'd rested after a particularly energetic round of sex.
The Baroness narrowed her eyes at him. "So?"
"In four years, nine months, one week, and three days, I'll be here to collect him. He's a Wizard now, Your Grace, and staying here will only stifle his progression. He needs to find his own destiny, and it's not here."
"And you think it's with you?" she sneered.
Jack smiled widely. "I know it is."
"Gods, that ego of yours - !"
"Ego might have a bit to do with it," Jack conceded. "But I do know that Ianto Jones is better than just being hidden away in the Archives. He needs to learn about his heritage…and we both know why Torchwood Castle was founded in the first place."
That barb hit home. Baroness Gwen once again narrowed her eyes. "You've overstepped your bounds, Captain. I would suggest you leave before I change my mind about those bonuses and just throw you and your lot in the cells."
"That would certainly go over well with the guild." Jack didn't push it any further; instead, he bowed to her – the Baron had somehow snuck out of the room as they'd argued – then turned on his heel and left, his cloak billowing out around his calves.
He nodded to Master Andrew, who was sitting at his usual desk near the door. Andrew smirked and shook his head; Jack had no illusions about the man not having overheard everything. He and Gwen had certainly been loud enough at times.
The mercenary was out in the corridor when he heard someone calling his name. He turned; Baron Rhys was hurrying toward him, looking grim. Jack stifled a sigh. He'd really hoped to be able to get their pay and then meet Ianto without any more fuss…
"Your Grace," he greeted the man cordially, not wanting to piss him off as well.
"Captain," the Baron said, "I just wanted to apologize for all that. Usually Gwen is a lot more compassionate about people getting hurt."
Jack bit his lip to keep from saying something he'd regret. "There's no need to apologize – "
"Yeah, I think there is." He took a deep breath. "Look, I just wanted to tell you that I'll make sure your second gets the care she needs. I'm sure I can get her into Providence Park, and they'll look after her."
The mercenary opened and closed his mouth twice, a voice in the back of his head – and it sounded scarily like Ianto – telling him he looked like a beached fish, and to get on with it. "Thank you, Your Grace," he answered sincerely. Providence Park was a Baronial-run home for those who were hurt or damaged while in service to the Barony. Suzie would get the best of care there.
Baron Rhys waved his hand. "It's the least we can do. She was hurt while you were working for us; it's only right we take care of her."
In that moment, Jack realized he'd made a mistake in not getting to know the Baron any better. He'd made assumptions because of Rhys' marriage to Gwen that perhaps he shouldn't have. "Still, it's more than I thought we'd get." He bowed to the Baron, a deeper one than what he'd given the man's wife.
He went to leave, but the mercenary stopped, thinking that he owed this man something. "Your Grace…I just wanted you to know…no matter what the rumors say, I've never slept with the Baroness, either before or after your marriage." He met the Baron's eyes, needing him to believe what he was saying.
Baron Rhys stared at him for several moments, then nodded. "Thank you for telling me, Jack. I did wonder…"
"I'm only sorry I didn't say anything sooner."
One side of the Baron's mouth curled up in a smile. "No worries." The smile grew. "Although I suspect you can't say the same for Master Ianto…"
Jack returned the smile. He didn't say anything, simply raised two fingers to his forehead in a salute. Then, with a jaunty step, he headed back to where he knew Ianto was waiting.
Ianto stood at the parapet of the highest tower in the castle grounds, leaning against the sun-warmed stone. He looked out over the gardens, the plants losing their fall colors and getting ready for winter's first blast.
Myfanwy chirped from her perch on the very edge of the parapet, her head leaning forward and rubbing against Ianto's shoulder. He could feel her joy at being that high up, and in the sensation of the wind rustling her wings. She was a creature of fire, and wind…and freedom.
A freedom he didn't have.
The closer he'd gotten to Cardiff, the more he wished he could travel with Jack and the others permanently. But Ianto was too honorable, too wrapped up in duty to even consider breaking his contract.
Jack had pointed out to him that time didn't really matter to them anymore. They could both wait until his contract was up, and then travel. Ianto knew that Jack had made a valid point about the castle not being the best place to learn about his heritage; they'd talked long into the night last night, their first night back in Cardiff, after some pretty raucous sex that had left Ianto breathless and amazed at Jack's prowess. Of course, he had centuries of experience…
And this gave Ianto time to search the Archives for any information on Wizards. Torchwood Castle also had one of the most extensive libraries in the United Kingdom, and he could avail himself in a bit of research. Perhaps giving him a lead on where they could look once they left.
He didn't even need to see Jack to know the captain had come up the stairs and was walking toward him; he could feel the tingle of magic against his skin, and Myfanwy's reaction was enough to let him know he wasn't alone.
The dragon trilled a greeting, and Ianto heard Jack chuckle. "As long as she's around, I'll never be able to sneak up on you." The mercenary joined Ianto, standing close enough that the older man's warmth overwhelmed the sun. He bumped the archivist's shoulder playfully.
"Even without her," Ianto answered, "I doubt you could sneak up on me."
"You sound pretty confident."
"Nope. Just Magical."
They stood together in silence for a while, the breeze from the sea causing Jack's cloak to whip against their legs. It was so peaceful up there; the archivist didn't normally care for heights, but there was something about being on that tower with both Myfanwy and Jack made it feel normal for him.
Then Jack began to talk, telling Ianto about what had occurred in his meeting with the Baroness, and what the Baron had done for Suzie. Ianto wasn't overly surprised, by either reaction; having seen both Baron and Baroness in action, he could understand why they both had done what they had. "I would think your time as the Baroness' favorite mercenary are over," he said, when Jack had finished.
The captain shrugged. "You're worth losing a contract over."
The warmth Ianto felt in his chest didn't have anything to do with the sunlight.
"You could still decide to come with me," Jack went on.
"You know the answer to that."
"Yeah, I know." Jack bumped his shoulder once more. "We can wait. It's not that long, in the grand scheme of things. Besides, I'll be back. You won't get rid of me that easily, Ianto Jones." His fingers were gentle against the younger man's face. "Oh, and I meant what I told the Baron. There was nothing ever between the Baroness and myself. Sure, I flirted…"
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Please Jack…you flirt with everyone." Then he smiled slightly. "Besides, it doesn't matter. You're with me now."
"Yep. You're stuck with me."
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
With those words, Ianto pulled him into a kiss, reveling in the fact that the Magic had brought them together.
Baroness Gwen Williams looked out her reception room window. From her vantage point she could see the three figures on the tower across the garden; that damned dragon let out a cry that she could hear even with the windows closed, then launched itself from the parapet to fly over the castle grounds. The sound broke what was obviously a very passionate embrace between the other two, whom she knew were her Archivist and the mercenary Captain despite the distance.
Gwen could feel the anger building; along with another emotion that she swore wasn't jealousy. There had never been anything between Jack and herself except flirting. He'd ignored her efforts, and in fact had turned her down flat. She'd only let him back under contract in order to try once more.
Instead, he'd seduced her Master Archivist. Damn him.
She knew what she had to do. She had to somehow keep Ianto Jones from ever leaving Torchwood Castle.
As her Grandmamma Yvonne had been fond of saying: If it's magic, it's ours.
Ianto Jones was magic. Therefore, he was Torchwood's.
The darkness was smothering her.
She had no idea how long she'd been in the darkness, but then she didn't even know her name anymore. She was even beginning to question whether she was even a "she", since the darkness had consumed everything she was.
And so, when she was pulled out of the fugue state she'd fallen into by the strange sound, it went without saying that she was surprised.
After all, she hadn't expected to hear anything, ever again.
Especially the sound of drums…